Whether you are a fan of his sound or not, it’s hard not to be at least intrigued by Dan Clews’ backstory – how often do you get to hear the music of someone who literally grew up on a strawberry field? (For anyone interested, he does host festivals in the field.) I jumped into his album Tourist In My Own Backyard feeling at least excited about what I was bound to hear.
Some of the songs were pretty country/blues/pop, and though they tackled different themes could be grouped into that style of song. “Take One Away” and “Bring You Round” are those anchor songs, which I did enjoy listening to but that sounded more authentic to one sort of genre. “Pixie Poem” could fall under this category as well, though it should be noted that the lyrics in that song were far more honest than expected from the somewhat upbeat and realistically bubbly sound.
What I really liked were the songs that dabbled – and that is really the right word – in other sounds, picking up just enough of those influences to create unique layers, sort of like when you add just a small bit of blue to red to make a reddish purple.
He introduces a little rock in the guitar riffs and technique of “Broken People,” sprinkling a helping of harsh, thick vocal delivery over a bluesy, expansive version of an underground pop song. “That’s Enough For Me” and “Edge Of The Earth,” with their honest yet accessible lyrics, are two other songs that seem to be a bit more edgy than the other songs on the album.
There’s even some electronica, including the unexpected yet intriguing samples in “I Still Feel” and the cool closing track “Only Love,” a song that sounds noticeably more modern than the more grassroots songs on the album. Last weekend I traveled back to my childhood home; I noticed that everything in the neighborhood had remained almost exactly the same from when I left, including the people who lived there. “Same Old Roots” is a strikingly accurate musical representation of that feeling, whether it was meant for someone on the inside looking out or vice versa being irrelevant.
This is a highly identifiable album, even though I come from a completely different background than Clews. Perhaps he is only telling his story, but I was able to identify with a lot of the themes and ideas I heard in these songs and as such, felt like I were reading some sort of anonymous, mass written autobiography rather than simply listening to sounds coming from someone’s mouth or instrument. Definitely give this a listen if you’d like to experience that sort of musical touch.
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